Don't miss our Autumn Meeting on Saturday 3 November, together with the Society's Annual General Meeting. It is taking place from 2pm to 5.30pm at the offices of Affinity Water in Tamblin Way, Hatfield, AL10 9AZ.
The keynote speakers are Matt Dodds, Planning and Biodiversity Manager at the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, and limacologist Chris de Feu, whose efforts to gain a fair hearing for slugs have included an appearance on the BBC's 2018 Springwatch programme.
Matt will be talking about his role in scrutinising development proposals in our county with a view to protecting, improving and creating wildlife habitats. Chris, in addition to sharing his enthusiasm for slugs will be holding an identification workshop. You are actively invited bring your own slug finds to the meeting (click 'read more' for Chris's collecting and transportation advice)!
Chantal Helm will be giving a progress update on the Hertfordshire Mammal, Amphibian and Reptile Atlas (MARA) survey, now approaching its final year, and on the current Hertfordshire Barbastelle bat survey. We will also be presenting this year's 1875 Awards for "an outstanding Hertfordshire naturalist" and "an outstanding contribution to natural history in Hertfordshire".
The Society's Annual General Meeting will take place during the meeting at 4.15pm. Any member interested in joining the Management Committee is welcome to contact the Secretary, David Utting (email@example.com) for further information. Any nominations (with seconder) for committee membership may also be sent to David.
Admission to the AGM (only) is free to all members, but there is a £5 entry fee for the Autumn Meeting, payable on the door.
We are, once again, grateful to Affinity Water for hosting the conference
Advice from Chris de Feu on collecting and transporting slugs!
The slug 'talk' workshop includes some identification of live slugs. The event will only be fully effective and productive if participants bring specimens which they have collected themselves.
One important reason for this is that slug distributions are very poorly documented and changing rapidly. It is almost certain that slugs brought in for identification will add new 'dots' to the national 10 km distribution map. Apart from the value to the national mapping scheme, finding a 'first record' for the locality is very satisfying to the finder. Another reason is that the casual examination of specimens as they are being collected will provide a foundation for later appreciation of the differences between the 45 British species.
Is is best to collect slugs a few days before the event. If you leave it until the evening before, it is certain to be too cold, too windy, too hot, too dry or otherwise unsuitable a time for slugs to be about. Slugs may be found either in the open during hours of darkness when they are most active, or else at other times hidden under almost any natural or un-natural artefact - stones, leaves, flower pots, seed trays, litter, rubbish. Plastic compost bins are excellent places to look in - lift the lid and see what is lurking under there.
Try to find as many different-looking slugs as possible. Differences will be in size, shape and colour. Put them in a container - plastic food containers are very convenient for this. No need to make any air-holes except in very small containers (such as 35mm film containers) - slugs live their lives very slowly and will not consume all the oxygen before you open the tub again. Give the slugs something to hide in. A good idea for this is to dampen bits of papier-mache egg boxes, but any dampened paper or cardboard will do. You can include a slice or two of raw potato or carrot for them to feed on and possibly some scraps of lichen if you have some of the larger, camouflaged species in the collection. Lettuce leaves are good; cabbage leaves bad.
Slugs of different species and sizes can be kept in the same container unless you have specimens of the Leopard or Tiger Slug (Limax maximus). This handsome beast is, sometimes, carnivorous and is likely to attack other slugs in the confines of a container. Recognize this slug by its large size, pointed tail, (usually) striped body and dotted mantle. Keep it in a separate container. It will be happy to feed on lichen or fungus rather than potato. If you are unsure of its identity, keep it in a separate container anyway.
Make a note of the date of collection, location (6-figure map reference ideal, but postcode and address will do). A brief description of habitat is also helpful - just a word or two will do (e.g. village garden; coniferous woodland; public park).
If you collect slugs in more than one location, keep slugs from the different locations separately and clearly marked.
Bring the slugs with you to the workshop. If you have a 10× hand lens or other magnifying glass it will be helpful in looking at finer details. Small plastic or wood implements (tea or coffee stirrers are ideal) are useful for handling slugs.
If you have any queries before the event, feel free to contact me on 01427 848400 or firstname.lastname@example.org